Peter J. Basser, Ph.D.

AIMBE College of Fellows Class of 2018
For his seminal contributions to the invention, development, and translation of diffusion tensor MRI (DTI), DTI tractography, and several neuro-technologies.

AIMBE Fellow, Peter Basser, Won the Prestigious Eduard Rhein Technology Award

Via Eduard Rhein Stiftung | February 20, 2021

Following unanimous proposals by the Board of Trustees and the jury, the Board decided to award Prof. Koblitz, Ph.D. and Mr. Victor S. Miller, Ph.D. with the Technology Award 2020 and Dr. Eckart von Hirschhausen with the Culture Award 2020, and Prof. Denis LE BIHAN, MD, PhD and Mr. Peter J. Basser, Ph.D. with the Technology Award 2021 and Mr. Volker Stollorz with the Culture Award 2021 of the Eduard Rhein Foundation… Continue reading.

Imaging researcher’s path leads to National Academy of Engineering honors

Via NIBIB, NIH | March 31, 2020

Pioneering work formed nascent roots of NIBIB’s Intramural Research Program

With his election this past February to the National Academy of Engineering (NAE), NIH’s Peter Basser achieved one of the highest professional distinctions accorded to any engineer.  NAE membership is bestowed on those who have made crucial contributions to new and developing fields of technology and major advancements in traditional fields of engineering.

Basser is Associate Scientific Director for Imaging, Behavior, and Genomic Integrity at the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD), where he began his tenure track in 1998. Yet, it was as a postdoctoral fellow in NIH’s Biomedical Engineering and Instrumentation Branch (BEIB)—the forerunner of the National Institute for Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering (NIBIB)—that he conducted pioneering imaging research to develop diffusion tensor magnetic resonance imaging (DTI) and streamline tractography; these have become indispensable methods for imaging the white matter of the brain. That was roughly a decade before the U.S. Congress legislated creation of NIBIB… Continue reading.

Peter Basser Elected to National Academy of Engineering

Via Harvard University | February 10, 2020

Peter Basser, A.B. ’80, S.M., ’82, Ph.D. ’86 (engineering sciences) and John Fan, S.M. ’67, Ph.D. ’72 (applied physics) have been elected to the National Academy of Engineering (NAE).

Basser, a senior investigator in the section on quantitative imaging and tissue sciences at the National Institutes of Health, was recognized for the development of diffusion tensor MRI and streamline tractography, which has implications in the characterization of brain disorders and the visualization of nerve fiber pathways.

Fan, founder, president, CEO, and chairman of Kopin Corporation, was honored for innovation and entrepreneurship in electronic materials and devices for displays.

Basser and Fan join 85 others in the NAE Class of 2020; election to the academy is among the highest professional distinctions accorded to an engineer. Click to read NAE’s press release.

Peter Basser, 2019 ASNR Honorary Member Recipient

Via American Society of Neuroradiology | April 16, 2019

ASNR Awards Committee Selects 2019 Gold Medal Recipients, Honorary Member, and FASNR Outstanding Research Award Recipient

The 2019 Honorary Member Award Recipient, Peter J. Basser, PhD, a scientist-inventor whose work has transformed how neurological disorders and diseases are diagnosed and treated, and how brain architecture, organization, structure, and anatomical “connectivity” are studied and visualized. He is the principal inventor of Diffusion Tensor Magnetic Resonance Imaging (DTI) — a non-invasive MRI technology that yields a family of novel features and imaging biomarkers. Quantities that he proposed include the mean apparent diffusion coefficient (mADC) — a DTI-derived parameter widely used to follow changes in stroke and in cancers, and the fractional anisotropy (FA), a robust quantity that makes brain white matter visible. He also proposed and developed “Streamline Tractography,” a means to elaborate white matter pathways, which now helps neuroradiologists plan brain surgeries.

More recently, Dr. Basser has been a pioneer in the field of “Microstructure Imaging”, which uses MRI data and models of water diffusion in tissue to extract salient micron-scale morphological features. Examples of MRI methods Dr. Basser invented and developed with colleagues include the non-invasive measurement of the mean axon diameter (CHARMED), the axon diameter distribution (AxCaliber), and the mean apparent propagator (MAP) in each voxel. He and members of his lab have also been actively involved in developing multiple pulsed-field gradient (mPFG) methods to measure microscopic diffusion anisotropy, which they reported observing in gray matter as early as 2007. Within the past few years, Dr. Basser’s lab has continued to make seminal contributions to neuroradiology, inventing and developing MRI methods to measure and map joint relaxation and diffusion spectra in brain tissue.

Dr. Basser received his undergraduate and graduate training in Engineering Sciences at Harvard University and his post-doctoral training in the Intramural Research Program (IRP) of the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, MD. Currently, he is a Principal Investigator and Associate Scientific Director within the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development.

Dr. Basser will receive his award during the President’s Appreciation Dinner on Tuesday, May 21, 2019 during the ASNR 57th Annual Meeting, which takes place May 18-23, 2019 at the Hynes Convention Center in Boston, Massachusetts.


Neurons absorb and release water when firing, NIH study suggests

Via National Institutes of Health | September 13, 2018

Neurons absorb and release water when they relay messages throughout the brain, according to a study by researchers at the National Institutes of Health and other institutions. Tracking this water movement with imaging technology may one day provide valuable information on normal brain activity, as well as how injury or disease affect brain function. The study appears in Magnetic Resonance in Medicine.

Current functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) technologies measure neuronal activity indirectly by tracking changes in blood flow and blood oxygen levels. Neurons communicate with each other by a process known as firing. In this process, they emit a slight electrical charge as an enzyme moves positively charged molecules — potassium and sodium ions — through the cell membrane. In the current study, when researchers stimulated cell cultures of rat neurons to fire, they found that the exchanges of potassium and sodium ions was accompanied by an increase in the number of water molecules moving into and out of the cell.

The researchers noted that their method works only in cultures of neurons and additional studies are necessary to advance the technology so that it can be used to monitor neuronal firing in living organisms… Continue reading.

Dr. Peter Basser Inducted into Medical and Biological Engineering Elite

Via AIMBE | April 10, 2018

WASHINGTON, D.C.—The American Institute for Medical and Biological Engineering (AIMBE) has announced the induction of Peter J. Basser, Ph.D., Senior Investigator, Intramural Research Program, NIH; Head, Section on Quantitative Imaging and Tissue Sciences; Associate Scientific Director, Division of Imaging, Behavior and Genomic Integrity, Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development; Associate Investigator, National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering, National Institutes of Health, to its College of Fellows. Dr. Basser was nominated, reviewed, and elected by peers and members of the College of Fellows for his seminal contributions to the invention, development, and translation of diffusion tensor MRI (DTI), DTI tractography, and several neuro-technologies.